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A record label is only as good as their artists and for Atlantic it’d been a long slow crawl towards respectability let alone viability in the marketplace.

But in mid-1951 they were sitting pretty with a roster full of hit-makers of every variety… male and female singers, vocal groups and bands.

The one guy who’d more or less been there through it all, who in fact gave them their best sellers during their fallow period and their first Number One hit last fall, has now been surpassed by even bigger stars with more promising futures.

Having someone as solid as Joe Morris as captain of the B-team of artists is great news for Atlantic and an unmistakable sign of how deep they were now, but for Morris himself he has to be wondering just what he has to do to ever get ahead.


You Got What You Wanted
You have to hand it to Joe Morris for being so willing to adapt to whatever changes were going on in the music world at the time. The former jazz sideman moved into rock ‘n’ roll when that style seemed a better bet for commercial success. He utilized the skills of his fellow jazz musicians, notably saxophonist Johnny Griffin who anchored his band’s aggressive sound, and guitarist George Freeman from whom he got his first regional hit, Lowe Groovin’, taking advantage of their instrumental prowess even though the band itself would’ve probably preferred to keep playing pure jazz.

When he lost Griffin as the sax ace returned to the jazz fold after a few years, Morris looked around and saw that Johnny Otis was doing great by having a shifting cast of vocalists fronting the band so Morris brought in Laurie Tate and got themselves a Number One hit in Anytime, Anyplace, Anywhere. He then followed that up by adding male vocalist Billy Mitchell and – unofficially perhaps – adding Jimmy “Baby Face” Lewis on guitar and vocals as well.

But while this should’ve been the time the group could finally take a victory lap things were unraveling again. Over the past few months Atlantic had been busy signing a clutch of artists – The Clovers, Big Joe Turner, The Cardinals – all of whom came out of the gate with hits… and not just hits, but ones that were clearly looking forward stylistically, helping to push the entire genre forward into new uncharted territory.

Morris meanwhile, still keeping his jazz background evident in some of the band’s charts which risked losing that connection to the rock listener, now was about to face the loss of his female singing star, as Tate – at some point around this time, if it hadn’t happened already – was leaving to start a family.

For the time being they had a few more sides of hers in the can, including I Hope You’re Satisfied, but once again it would be time for Joe Morris to regroup and come up with a new game plan just to be able to keep pace.

Sometimes it seems the faster you run, the further behind you fall.

Fed You With Honey, Called You Sugar All The Time
Whoever is playing guitar – my guess is Lewis, though nobody is credited – kicks this off with a jolt, brief though it is before the horns take it back a few years with their lightly swaying refrains.

The piano and guitar remain in the background but are prominent enough to allow the record to keep looking forward, though it’s a struggle at times as Morris is alternately having the horns – including his own trumpet – provide a musical bed more suited to his earlier outings when the direction of rock wasn’t quite as established as it is now.

A few of the riffs are more aggressive in nature and you hope the song will turn the corner and embrace those fully but don’t count on it for I Hope You’re Satisfied never completely abandons the past, even as with the return of the vicious guitar in a break it clearly looks to embrace the future as well.

The same can be said about Tate’s lead. Never the easiest vocalist to digest with her high shrill tones that are exacerbated by her tendency to sing at full volume much of the time, she still possesses a good instinct when it comes to conveying the emotional textures of a song and here – in her best moments at least – she’s really good, wailing away in agony over the fact her ex was clearly using her… for money, sex, housework, you name it… and then suddenly dropping in volume and showing disgust rather than sadness over the outcome.

Still, a little moderation here would’ve gone a long way into making this slightly more palatable. The power she unleashes… or maybe intensity is a better word, for her tone is thin which doesn’t tend to equate with power… is always going to be more effective in small doses, but than again Tate rarely understood the meaning of restraint. That’s why the calmer moments when combined with the louder ones surrounding them come across better because the shrieks are offset by more measured lines.

Since Tate sang this way all the time it wasn’t a case of just misunderstanding its impact on this particular song, or not being properly reined in by Morris. That’s just how she sang and it was actually a credible job by songwriter Rudy Toombs to give her a composition where that wouldn’t be an outright hindrance, even if he may have wished she’d tone things down just a little along the way.


Everything Was Just Alright
This is one of those records whose response is more based on your mindset at the time you hear it.

The attributes that are questionable, even off-putting – the outdated horn charts, the excesses in Tate’s delivery – could very likely turn you off and prevent you from even considering the better aspects, such as the overall story, the squalling guitar and general steady groove behind it all.

If so you wouldn’t necessarily be wrong to not recommend it, I Hope You’re Satisfied is probably something of an acquired taste and there’s no doubt its shortcomings could be made all the more evident when slotted alongside records that have no weak spots even if the songs themselves aren’t top shelf material.

But there’s still something reasonably effective in this despite those moments where you question their judgement in how it’s being executed. There’s a competency in their playing even when the arrangement lets them down a bit and each time you’re ready to dismiss it over one perceived flaw, along comes something else to change your mind again.

By now though all that meant was this was an average rock release for 1951 wherein veteran musicians, a successful singer and a skilled songwriter all know what to do, but like most people in most professions sometimes they get just slightly too lax in carrying those duties out.

It still gets the job done – maybe even slightly better than we’re crediting them with to be honest – and normally nobody would notice if it was just a little sloppy at times, but when you’re on this particular label at this specific moment in time where the stakes have been raised so high, then any time you’re not hitting on all cylinders you tend to stand out for the wrong reasons in spite of its reasonably good outcome.


(Visit the Artist page of Joe Morris as well as Laurie Tate for the complete archive of their respective records reviewed to date)